After a frighteningly dominant win in Perth, the Brisbane Heat return to the Gabba where they will be hoping to repeat the dose against the Scorchers on Wednesday night.
Any concern that the Heat’s hot streak may have to come to an end following their loss to the Sydney Sixers last Tuesday was quickly extinguished when they overwhelmed the Scorchers at the WACA by nine wickets without star leg-spinner Samuel Badree. Bowling first, the Heat never allowed Perth’s run rate to get out of hand, restricting them to 6/173 in exceptional conditions for batting.
In the absence of Badree, sole spin responsibilities were placed on 23-year-old Mitch Swepson who responded with a brilliant spell to pick up 2/27 off his four overs. Paceman Nick Buchanan also claimed two wickets, however his four overs cost 42. The Heat’s reply got off a rapid start when they took 17 from the first over and although they lost Jimmy Pierson for a quick-fire 18 off nine balls, that brought together the familiar pair of Brendon McCullum and Chris Lynn.
In normal circumstances, McCullum’s innings of 50 off 31 balls would be the headline act, however it was completely overshadowed by another thrilling performance from Lynn. The explosive right-hander struck three fours and 11 incredible sixes on his way to a phenomenal 98 off 49 balls, which was his third score in excess of 80 in his past four innings, and takes his tournament average to 154.50 at a strike-rate of 177.58.
Far from resting on their laurels, Brisbane have bought in English speedster Tymal Mills as an injury replacement for Badree, with the left-arm quick set to play the Heat’s next two matches, although they have suffered a colossal blow with Lynn having played his last match of the tournament following selection in the Australian ODI squad.
The Scorchers were left shell-shocked by Brisbane’s demonstrative performance, however they didn’t do themselves any favours with a timid batting display against the Heat’s feeble bowing attack. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Perth’s top three of Michael Klinger, Shaun Marsh and Ian Bell were surprisingly conservative, scoring a combined 57 off 53 balls which was well below the requisite run rate in such complementary conditions.
However the introduction of the in-form Mitchell Marsh moved things along, with his 70 off 41 balls helping the Scorchers to take 54 off the last five overs and finish with what at least appeared to be a challenging total. As it transpired, Perth’s score looked significantly short of what was required as the Heat top three blazed away with abandon and ran down the target with 32 balls remaining.
After excelling in the powerplay throughout the tournament, English swing bowler David Willey ran head first into the Brisbane juggernaut, conceding 30 off two overs although he did claim the sole wicket. Mitchell Marsh was also given a taste of his own medicine with his two overs disappearing for 32, although in reality none of the Perth bowlers had any answers to Lynn and McCullum’s deadly onslaught.
Heading into this match the Scorchers also have a change to their international brigade with Willey off to represent England in the ODI series against India, replaced by fellow Englishman Tim Bresnan. Furthermore the Scorchers will be without their most in-form batsman, with Mitchell Marsh joining Lynn in the national squad.
If the Scorchers were looking for some respite from the flow of runs they will be disappointed with both sides scoring in excess of 170 in the last seven BBL matches at the Gabba. However the Heat will sorely miss Lynn, with the mercurial right-hander averaging 60.43 from his last seven knocks at the Gabba at a strike-rate of 192.27.
- The Heat have won six of their past seven games.
- Chris Lynn has top-scored for the Heat in nine of his past 14 games, including five of his past seven at the Gabba.
- The Scorchers have won three of their past five away games.
- Mitchell Marsh is averaging 70.00 for the Scorchers this season and has top-scored twice.
Despite their convincing win in the west, the Heat have been installed as marginal underdogs to record back-to-back victories over the stunned Scorchers, with the omission of Lynn having a significant impact on the prices.
Although they have been decidedly reliant on a limited number of individuals, I’m in no hurry to oppose the Heat here, especially at the Gabba where the conditions suit their aggressive batting, if not their somewhat limited bowling. The addition of left-arm quick Tymal Mills does add crucial variety to the attack, although whether he can be as effective as Badree in keeping the runs down remains to be seen.
The question on everyone’s lips is how the Heat will handle the loss of Lynn who has been so crucial to their success, but they still boast enough brawn within their batting unit to put the Scorchers under significant pressure and it is not often that a team on such a sizzling streak starts as underdogs, changes in personnel notwithstanding.
While they may be considered one of the stronger sides in the competition, the Scorchers looked all at sea against the offensive launched by Lynn and McCullum, and the loss of David Willey does not make things any easier with Bresnan an adequate replacement at best. One would imagine they will place a greater responsibility on the spin duo of Ashton Agar and Ashton Turner, and also adopt a more hostile approach to their batting, especially given the depth of their order.
However, while the loss of Lynn to Brisbane has certainly been priced in, I’m not so sure the market has adequately adjusted for Perth’s own loss of their best batsman so far this season. Although not quite as prolific as Lynn, the younger Marsh brother has scored more than 25% of all Perth’s runs in BBL06 and crucially, he is the only top-order player with a strike-rate above 120 whereas the Heat line-up is still littered with batsmen who are scoring at a frenetic rate. Lynn has top-scored for the Heat in three of five matches, however Marsh was only one run away from matching that feat despite batting one spot lower at number four.
One could argue that both sides will be without their batsman and their best bowler, however it is the hosts who have the more capable replacements which is why I’m going to begin by backing the Heat in this one. But with concerns lingering over Brisbane’s bowling attack, in addition to just how well they manage without the reigning player of the tournament – especially at his happy hunting ground of the Gabba – I will look to trade out and remove any red numbers on either side of the ledger.
BACK-TO-LAY – Brisbane Heat at 2.05 or bigger for 1 unit (trade out at 1.60 or better).